For my birthday which just passed recently, I decided to give myself a treat, ie a trip to a place that I have always wanted to go, Maldives!! The resort chosen was the Holiday Inn Resort at Kandooma, which was booked using a mixture of earned/purchased Priority Club points (which was very good value considering the 'crazy' hotel rates in Maldives) with the flights on SQ booked on a mix of redemption on outgoing flight and paying one-way back on the return (the return flight booked via an agent was cheaper than booking through SQ's website and with 50% miles accrual too!).
Finally the long-awaited day of departure arrived. I had checked in online earlier and just needed to drop my bags and get my boarding pass at Terminal 2. The flight was going to be very full!
Made a visit to the Green Market, compliments of my credit card, but only a buffet continental breakfast was available. The all-day set-menu would only be available from 11am.
The Green Market is quite empty in the morning.
Some nibbles from the breakfast buffet.
After the quick bite, it was up to the Sunflower Garden to spot my plane.
9V-STA, SQ's first A333, would be flying me to Male. Departure was from Gate F41. Also spotted are more SQs and MIs. Boring...
03 August 2012
Singapore (SIN) - Male (MLE)
Proceeded to F41 as boarding was commencing. The gate was filled with passengers, majority are Chinese families with kids transiting via SIN. Looks like Maldives is not just a destination for honeymooning couples anymore!
Boarding commenced shortly and was conducted from the rear of aircraft. Greeted at the door and directed towards the correct aisle. My first impression of this set of crew - Not very warm with few greetings along the aisles. Oh, and boarding music is back!
Window seats at the forward cabin.
At the gate.
Legroom was just average on the A333. I just could not find a comfortable sitting position on the new SQ economy seats. Hard seat cushions and I could not fully stretch my legs under the seat in front.
The plane plane filled up to the brim, with barely any empty seats left! Could be a 100% load in economy today! Business class should be quite empty as a crew member to sent up to assist in economy. 7 crew in economy and 3 crew in business class today. My cabin was served by 3 crew: LS, FSS and FS. As usual, the SQ protocol of hot towels, menus and headphones distribution. Flight time was announced to be a short 4h05m.
All the mags and menu.
Departure time of 0945hrs came and went, and then the pilot came on nearing 1000hrs, explaining that there was a slight technical problem with the aircraft and the technicians were working on it, and we would be expecting a delay of about 10-15min more.
Finally we were pushed back at about 1015hrs with safety video playing. SQ birdies, including the famous 9V-SYE, can be seen parked at T2 remote stands.
Aug 11, 12, 8:35 am
Even though we had pushed back, we were number 7 for takeoff, which means another 15min of taxiing to Rwy20C. Some of the planes taking off ahead of us includes:
Post takeoff service announcement.
And it was time to fire up the Krisworld entertainment system. Not sure if it is my personal preference, but I find the selection of movies offered for the month of August rather poor. What's with the offering of 8 movies from the Avengers series?? In the end, I settled for the comedy "Mirror, Mirror" starring Julia Roberts. In comparison, I find QF's entertainment system to have much more variety of movies and serials compared to SQ.
Cabin Service: Initially, I mentioned that my first impression of the set of crew was not too great, well they remained that way (especially the junior crew) for the rest of the flight. Very robotic service from the junior crew members and even lack of smiles from some. Most were just going through the motions with few, if any, interactions with passengers. Really not up to the usual high SQ standards. During boarding earlier, a FSS was only eye-powering rather then settling pax or assisting with bags. A stark contrast from my recent Jetstar flight where the crew were much more proactive during boarding. And the full-load up did not really help either.
Bar service was offered first using bar carts. Each pax got 2 packets of nuts. I had an apple juice to go along. No alcohol for me so early in the day.
Lets take a look at the menu today.
As the fish option doesn't sound too appetising, I went for the Japanese curry.
Marinated seafood with penne pasta salad. Tasted quite fishy.
Cheese, crackers and butter. And SQ had changed the roll to a soft roll instead of the previous hard roll!
Japanese style chicken curry with steamed rice. Just very average and tasted similar to those bought-off-the-shelf japanese curry mix. Quite similar to what I had months back for Jetstar's BOB meal too!
Aug 11, 12, 9:20 am
Meal service. After the meal, I overhead that the fish option tasted horrible...
Best part of the meal, Magnum Ice-cream!
Magnum at 37000ft.
After meal service, I visited the lavatory. Still quite well-stocked.
Another view of cabin after meal.
After meal service, I finished up my movie followed by just browsing through the other entertainment options. Best entertainment is still the flight map!
Slightly more than an hour to go.
Rather strong tail winds.
Nothing but the Indian Ocean all the way to Maldives.
Soon started our descent. Again same procedure: Seats up, window shades up, headphones collected, all 30min prior to touchdown.
Glimpse of atolls through the clouds.
Amazing view of Maldives atolls!!
Passing Kurumba just before touchdown.
Landing into Male Rwy18. My shortest taxi ever from runway to the gate!
Aug 11, 12, 10:04 am
Landed 20min behind schedule but most passengers were not too bothered. At the parking stand just beside the runway.
In Maldives, the holiday atmosphere starts at the airport! No aerobridges at the airport (but going to change in the future) and we got to walk along the tarmac to the arrival hall, while basking in the Maldivian sun! Not to mention lots of photo taking too!!
Yepp, it is STA alright.
On the tarmac in front of the aircraft.
Male's recently renamed Ibrahim Nasir International Airport.
Still on the tarmac. Everyone was seen photo-whoring in front of the aircraft! Haha!
Some Maldivian regional planes at the domestic end.
Air India A320 preparing to depart for Bangalore.
Partnership with Malaysia Airports
Very basic arrival hall.
And onto the speedboat to the resort!
A very average flight on SQ. Yes, everything moved like clockwork, but I felt that there was no soul, no enthusiasm. Food was not too appetizing, but the ice-cream saved the day. Entertainment selection on the IFE was not too exciting, and anyone noticed that the inflight magazine is getting thinner and thinner? The Duty-free and Krisworld guides are even thicker! Ok, enough ramblings about SQ, on to my holiday in magical Maldives!
Aug 11, 12, 10:25 am
Great report! Can't wait to see more!
Aug 11, 12, 10:50 am
Passing by Male Island, which is the capital of Maldives. It is smaller than Sentosa Island in Singapore!
40min speedboat ride and finally we reached Holiday Inn Resort!
Thanks for a lovely TR,and all the great pics, the food at the hotel looked lovely, infact was getting extremely hungry and could have grabbed some of the food off the plate whilst scrolling down the pictures. Maldives is a lovely place have been 3 time, and find the staff so friendly and go out of their way to help.^
Airport 'carpark' aka boat parking bay
Reaching the airport jetty
Aug 13, 12, 9:38 am
The 'Airport Shuttle' from Male island.
Entrance to the international departure hall.
Apparently a new terminal is being built.
Lets have a look at the departures for the day. Mainly domestic departures in the afternoon...
with more international departures in the evening hours.
I had done a mobile online check-in earlier (the website check-in is not working for my agent booked itinerary...) and thus proceeded the internet check-in counters with no queues.
View of the check-in area. Went through immigration and security with no hassles.
My boarding pass. The Maldivian departure immigration stamp is cute!
Grabbed a quick bite at the airport cafe (with not too ridiculous prices) and proceeded down a level to the waiting lounge. Reminded me of KL's LCCT Terminal!
Departure gate 3. Again, most passengers are PRC nationals, transiting in Singapore. However the load seemed quite light, probably around 50% full.
Mega Maldives B763 arriving from a Chinese city.
Boarding was announced by rows and it was again a long walk to the plane in the sun. Not that I minded!!
Aug 14, 12, 9:03 am
06 August 2012
Male (MLE) - Singapore (SIN)
World's Best Airline vs World's Most Awarded Airline
9V-STH would be flying me back. Second time on her!
Boarded the plane via stairs again. The set of crew on this flight was definitely much better than the incoming flight. Warm, genuine smiles and proactive assistance during boarding and more interaction with passengers. This should be the SQ that I know of!
2 Mega Maldives B767s were parked beside.
At the gate. Hot towels, menus and headphones were distributed with smiles. Flight time was announced to be a longer 4h35m due to strong headwinds.
All passengers were boarded by 1440hrs, 10min before STD of 1450hrs, but the captai came on the announced a 10min delay in pushback due to single runway operations restrictions at Male. As there were no taxiways in Male, we needed to allow some arrival planes to land before we can push back. When the slight delay was announced, the crew immediately came around with a water service, which was much appreciated with the hot weather. Conversely, no such service was conducted on the previous flight even though the delay stretched to almost half hour.
At exactly 1500hrs, we started our pushback. It was weird yet amazing to be pushed back directly onto the runway! There was absolutely no space for our A330 to taxi past the parked aircraft on the ramp.
Engines started up and we backtracked along the runway. Spotted a few planes that had just landed, including A320s of Etihad and Sri Lankan.
And an Emirates B772.
Taxiing along the runway.
Just beside the sea!
Made a U-turn at the end of the runway and departed from Rwy18.
Blue skies and blue sea....
Last few glimpse of Maldives atolls...
Tried to recline my seat, but unfortunately the seat was spoilt and cannot stay in the reclined position. No worries as the cabin was quite empty, I moved to the rear seat 61A. Surprisingly, the window seats at the last few rows felt to have slightly more seat pitch, probably due to the curvature of the cabin.
Climbing to cruising altitude. Nothing but the ocean for almost the entire flight.
First up, bar service and again using full bar carts. Of course, Singapore Sling for me! All of us were given 2 packets of nuts each again.
A second round of drinks were served, and the very kind stewardess along my aisle, on seeing my eaten packets of nuts, offered me another packet. Well, I politely declined but requested for an apple juice. Boy, I am beginning to like this set of crew!
Crew conducting bar service.
About half hour after the bar service, dinner was served. Lets take a look at the menu. Hmm, not too exciting.
Dinner is served. Had a coke light to go along.
Pasta and tuna salad. Simple starter.
Cheese, crackers and roll.
Braised beef with green peppercorn sauce with sauteed vegetable and mashed potatoes. Portion was sufficient but taste was not too inspiring.
Stir fried chicken with ginger and spring onion, chinese vegetable and steamed rice. This selection was slightly better.
Again, the rich and creamy dessert was the redeeming factor. Enjoyed it with a cup of hot coffee. Chocolate cream cake with coffee sauce
Aug 14, 12, 10:23 am
Meal service in progress. The crew offered another 2 rounds of drinks after distribution of trays!
Amenities in lavatory, again...
Settled into the seats (which was transformed into a mini-bed with the empty seat beside and thus more comfortable), and tried to find something to watch on Krisworld. Settled on a romantic comedy, but was so bored halfway that I started playing some games. Luckily I was not flying long-haul! Would be bored to tears if I did not have my own entertainment!
Sun is gradually setting.
Midpoint of the flight.
While overflying Sumatra, we experienced some rather strong turbulences due to changing wind directions. With the very strong headwinds coupled with peak arrival traffic, it further delayed our arrival timing to 2255hrs instead of the scheduled 2235hrs. Nearing Singapore.
Made a very long approach by flying along the southern coast of Singapore, up north towards Malaysia before making an approach back south into Changi.
Landing into Changi Rwy20R.
View of seats at the end of flight.
This concludes the end of my trip report to Magical Maldives. SQ still maintained a minimum standard of service and amenities but the "Singapore Girl" experience in sorely lacking on the flight up to Male. Fortunately, the experience on the return flight is much better and restored some my confidence in SQ. Food wise, there is definitely room for improvement. After tasting the inflight meals on a variety of airlines over many flights, SQ had seldom impressed me with their economy meals. It is not the worst, but definitely not the best either. Probably this is due to personal preference but in this aspect, I find that TG fared much better with their economy meals. Inflight entertainment choices is not lacking, but the selection is definitely not comparable to some other airlines. Again, it could probably be just an August thingy. As for the inflight magazine, has SQ editors ran out of stories/ideas or is it to save on the weight? It is so thin that the inflight magazines of Jetstar/Tiger/Scoot appear to have more contents! Overall, SQ's economy class has lost some of its sparkle and does not offer the "unique" flying experience anymore. It could be other airlines are fast catching up or standards of SQ's crew service are now a hit or miss. The latter, I felt, is more of the case.
Thanks for reading till here and hope you have enjoyed the pictures and report. Your comments are much welcomed!!
Aug 14, 12, 3:07 pm
SQ birdies, including the famous 9V-SYE, can be seen parked at T2 remote stands.
Whats it famous for?
Aug 14, 12, 4:14 pm
Great report! Thank you for sharing!
I have looked at the HI resort before... Looks very nice indeed...!
Aug 14, 12, 8:59 pm
Whats it famous for?
Star alliance livery + badly maintained cabin + old, unretrofitted seats with poor non-AVOD inflight entertainment system. The only B773 left in SQ's fleet in this appalling condition.
Sep 1, 12, 11:01 am
Thanks for posting.
It's amazing how much SQ charges for this particular flight. A brief flight and they want at least $1,300 SGD usually.
I've found that it can be cheaper on SQ from BKK , perhaps because they are competing against Bangkok Airways.
Sep 1, 12, 11:46 am
Great report. I just posted a link to the hotel portion on the master thread about the Holiday Inn Kandooma.
Apr 14, 13, 1:54 am
Where did all the resort pics go? I can't see them, just the flight pics.